Saturday, June 22, 2013


The 2011 Petraio Pinot Grigio was a last minute addition to the tasting lineup last night and it turned out to be very popular indeed.  The wine was simple in style: straw color, light and refreshing in taste, apple blossom and peach in the nose, and light herbs at the finish.  This 100% Pinot Grigio sourced from Umbria is summer wine, pure and simple.

Umbria is a place that pops up frequently in conversations around here.  Most people who travel to the region love the people, culture, and topography.  Towns like Assisi and Orvieto are representative of the church and Italian white wine in casual conversation and along with Perugia, the capitol, form a three-fold picture postcard urging the viewer to come to Italy and become immersed in the history and culture of the place.

Lake Trasimeno and the Tiber River are the only water sources in this landlocked region, the only such place in Italy that doesn't also have a border with another country.  Umbria is actually bordered by Tuscany to the west, Marche on the east, and Lazio to the south.  The topography is rolling hills with fertile plains.  The lake helps to moderate the temperatures of the region and the river along with the tufo (volcanic) soil together account for the fertility there.  The colli (hills) of Umbria are actually the Apennine Mountains and the vineyards are situated on terraces on the hillsides.

Two fine large wine concerns are located in Umbria: Lungarotti and Falesco but the production overall is actually quite small.  Umbria is the fourth smallest wine production region in Italy, having only a third of the production of neighboring Tuscany.  There are only two DOCG wines (both reds) from Umbria: Montefalco Sagrantino and Torgiano Rosso Riserva.  Only 17% of Umbrian wine production ranks DOC or better and 60% of the total production is white wine.

We have written about Valpolicella three times here and one of our observations was that industrial wine production downgrades the artisanal production of others, demeaning the identity of the product now being mass produced.  That may be the case here too.  Orvieto is the horse driving the Umbrian wine cart and it has been industrially produced for decades.  Wine consultants and investment money are now coming into Umbria to restore that product to its original quality and to improve wine quality there in general.  Currently Umbrian wines sell for a fraction of Tuscan prices.  That would change, of course, with a renewed emphasis on quality. 

Also on the table last night was Masseria Li Veli 2011 Verdeca, an amazing white wine from Puglia, the heel of the boot.  While I knew the wine was good, shamefully I didn't know what it was.  At I learned Verdeca is the name of the grape making up this varietal wine along with 10% Fiano Minutolo.  It turns out Liveli is a unique company that makes wines solely from ancient Apulian grape varieties!  Go to their website if you are curious to learn more.

Next Friday, June 28th, we will be tasting a couple of California Chardonnays and some combination of new world reds.  Please join us and become a follower of this blog because at the end of the year we're all going to get together for cake and ice cream!    

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